He entered prison for the first time at the age of 10, was one of the founders of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and became one of the representatives of Fatah’s security prisoners in Israeli jails. For the last decade, Ramzi Fayyad, who has been working to promote dialogue between representatives of released prisoners, views the the current hunger strikes as an opportunity. Orly Noy spoke to him about prison conditions, the failure to learn from past mistakes, and why the strike could help Palestinians on a global level.
The hunger strike organized by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has been going on for four weeks, and as anticipated, after the initial uproar in the media, has fallen out of the public eye in Israel. This itself is an expression of the occupier’s authoritarian arrogance: the deep indifference to the political and social drama unfolding on the streets of Palestine, which we are only interested in, if at all, when it has to do with “terrorists” who dare to demand satellite channels in their cells.
From the first day, the strike reminded me of one name: Ramzi Fayyad, a former security prisoner who I used to interview 12-13 years ago, on a radio show I hosted at the time. Ramzi would speak to us from time to time from from Ktziot Prison, talking about the conditions of the prisoners, and Palestinian politics more generally. I owe some of my deepest insights to these conversations. Over the years, we developed a real friendship, and through friends from the outside we exchanged photos of family, letters, and children’s gifts. We haven’t spoken for a long time, Ramzi and I. The hunger strike brought me right back to our discussions, and after a short conversation we agree it is time to meet up again after all these years. He cannot enter Israeli territory, so I drove to visit him and his family in Jenin.
Ramzi waits for me at Huwarra. Even though the years in jail have left a clear mark on him, I immediately recognize him from the photographs, and the meeting is incredibly moving. He pulls out a thermos and two glasses out of his car, pouring us coffee, “welcome coffee” and we set off. Ramzi is married and has two sons – Osama, the eldest at 16, who was a baby in the photos Ramzi had once sent, and Alaa, his nine year-old son who was born after...Read More